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Managing customer complaints

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Last updated on November 21, 2014

If their complaints are resolved in a satisfactory way, the majority of complaining customers will continue to do business with you.

They can even become loyal customers, because you listened and resolved their problem.

The following actions will help you to manage situations with a customer who has a complaint.

Listen

  • Accept ownership of the problem but don't take the complaint personally.
  • Use good eye contact with the customer.
  • If on the telephone, concentrate on what is being said and take notes.

Practise honest empathy

  • Seek to resolve the customer's concern in a non-judgemental, empathetic manner.
  • Acknowledge the customer's feelings.
  • Stay calm – don't become emotional.

Clarify the problem or issue

  • Gather the facts.
  • Confirm your understanding of the situation, beginning with a phrase like, "let me see if I understand your concern".
  • Ask if there is anything else that needs to be resolved.

Find out what the customer wants

  • Within your capacity, offer options for resolving the complaint.

Obtain final agreement on the solution

  • Be clear on the action(s) you propose to take.
  • Ask the customer, "will that action correct the problem to your satisfaction?"  If not, go back to clarifying the problem to ensure your understanding is correct.

Implement the agreed solution

  • Acknowledge the inconvenience caused to the customer.
  • Be cheerful and helpful.
  • Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention.
  • Remember that the last thing you say is the thing most likely to be remembered.

Follow up with the customer

  • Contact the customer a few days after implementing the solution to ensure that they are satisfied and happy with the outcome.
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